during my recent Florida trip i was shown the area where four fledglings were "learning the ropes." I was able to spend time with this young family on three separate occasions and enjoyed their daily interactions in becoming independent. I observed various groupings of siblings that would cry loudly to be fed by either mom or dad. Over a weeks time, there was more flying rather than staying on a perch for long periods of time, and I witnessed some young catching a bug on their own to hold and eat once they hopped back onto the barbed wire.
I chose this image because the young would often look above as if they were figuring out how to get to the higher perch! Also, this fledgling is already familiarizing this barbed wire perch as a place to lookout onto the pasture for prey.
Loggerheads and Northern shrikes are the only songbirds in the country that regularly prey on other adult songbirds, along with insects, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals. Shrikes use everything from cactus spines to hawthorn thorns to barbed wire barbs for skewering their prey. Impaled victims not only serve as dinner but also as "billboards or bird boards" that advertise the prowess of the male.
Shrikes are in great decline for numerous reasons, habitat loss, pesticides, rural road improvements and car accidents. Here's wishing a healthy life for the young shrike I became friends with!
After a bathing and preening session, this dowitcher flaps and then shoots strait-up before dropping down where it started. There is such a peaceful and angelic quality that I love the overload of sweetness.